Returning back to the office won’t be an easy transition as anxiety about being in close proximity to colleagues increases.
That is why it is up to facility managers to prepare for changes to the workspace, particularly how it is designed and operated. Health and wellness strategies will be key in ensuring that employees feel safe and secure once they return to their offices.
“Health and wellness will move from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must have,’” said Paul Scialla, CEO of Delos and founder of the International WELL Building Institute. “The pandemic is really bringing the importance of health and wellness front and center.”
The new normal of workspaces will include distancing workstations, increasing cleaning regimens and reducing exposure to high-contact areas.
Beyond that, companies should also invest in technology that makes it easier to stagger remote work and in-person arrangements to reduce density in the space. Accepting that some employees may not be coming back into work every day from now on is important and has even been found to boost productivity and make managing mental health easier.
For those who will be in the office, reevaluating the layout of the workspace will be essential. This should include creating barriers, encouraging one-way traffic, and keeping desks spaced appropriately.
“We will need to put buildings to work for us to fight against infectious diseases,” said Steven Anderson, a partner with Montroy Andersen DeMarco. “Though there will be physical design changes, there will also be new protocols and policies regarding health and wellness.”